Sunday, January 16, 2005

Meeting, Meetings, Meetings, But More is Needed

If you are interested in following the affairs of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, you better cancel most of your plans for Jan. 25 and part of Jan. 24. The agency has scheduled three teleconference meetings, which means that the meetings will held in one location and broadcast to several locations elsewhere in the state.

The site search committee is meeting from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m on the 25th. You can fill that afternoon with a 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. meeting of the scientific and medical research fund working group search committee. The business of the site search committee is obvious. The scientific research group will consider, among other things, grant formats and criteria for selection of members of the research working group, which is not the same thing as the search committee for the research working group, which is the one actually meeting on Jan. 25. This may sound confusing, but one can only do so much with the names of groups that are nearly identical.

In other agenda news, the presidential search committee meets in teleconference mode on Jan. 24 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. to consider responses from personnel search firms seeking to conduct a search for a president for CIRM. If you are a such a firm, the deadline for proposals is Jan. 19, Wednesday, at 5 p.m.

This seems to be a good use of teleconferencing to allow interested parties to actually hear the meetings from various locations around the state. (See the locations and agendas at the CIRM web site.) However, there are several problems. Listeners will not be able to see any documents, such as search firm proposals. The actual members of the committees are not listed. No procedures for voting are laid out, including what consitutes a quorum for these committees. This is a young agency with a host of start-up issues. But it is time for it to publish procedures that lay out how it works beyond what is in the actual initiative, if it has such procedures. While we are on the subject, it is past time for CIRM to publish some version of minutes of previous meetings. This is standard procedure for other government agencies and should not be neglected. It would also be a good idea to broadcast all meetings via the Internet instead of to specific locations. Access would be much improved.

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